The house at Cherokee is typical of many early Louisiana plantation homes—a West Indies–type cottage raised more than six feet above ground level. The original structure consisted of four central rooms and a wide porch surrounding the house. The house was elevated as a precaution against floodwaters from the Red River during high-water periods.
Architects have concluded that the original house had galleries all around. Over time, the north side was enclosed for a butler’s pantry, the stranger’s room, another bedroom (which was eventually remodeled into the house’s first indoor bathroom), and a kitchen.
Eighteen square columns of hand-hewn cypress extend from porch level to the eaves. All elements of the skeletal structure—massive sills, floor beams, ceiling beams, and studding—are hand-hewn cypress of gigantic proportions. The house has a hipped roof with no dormers. Portions of the original porches remain—twelve feet wide across the front, on the left side, and across the back.
The floorboards are heart of pine, and the walls are bousillage made of river mud mixed with Spanish moss with a finish of mud and deer hair, reflecting the original construction. The ceilings are 13 feet high with the ceiling beams exposed. The window glazing is original, as are the floors, fireplace mantels, the punkah, and most hardware.
The front porch is 24 feet long by 20 feet wide and has a double entrance, one into the parlor and one into the family bedroom. The doors and windowpanes inside and out are handblown glass. Thirty-six pillars of handmade brick support the building.